Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Another Iconic French Institution - Ladurée

The year was 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée - a miller from southwest France, decided to open up a pastry shop on 16 rue Royale, in the neighborhood of la Madeleine. Jules Cheret, a "turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist" was given the task of decorating the shop. Inspired by the decorative styles of the Sistine chapel and the Opera Garnier, Cheret painted "Cherubic children" on the ceiling, as part of his design.

Madame Jeanne Souchard Ladurée came up with the idea of adding a Parisian café to the pastry shop, making it one of the first successful tea rooms. Drawing from her experience as the daughter of a hotelier from Rouen, Madame Ladurée founded a venue that attracted the Parisian society, including the women who came to gather, openly, among themselves. Pierre Desfontaines, a second cousin of her husband, was tasked to work on the expansion of the tea room in 1930.

It was also Pierre Desfontaines who invented the French macaron in the early 1900s, after a trip to Switzerland. He thought of getting two macaron cookies to sandwich a tasty ganache filling. Thus, came the first line of macaron, which was chocolate-flavored.
With the rich history of Laduree, this iconic institution attracted the Holder group. In 1993, Francis Holder and his son David successfully made a bid for Ladurée. As they designed to take this institution to new heights, a new branch was opened in September of 1997 on 75 Avenue des Champs Elysées, making it bigger and better. A renovation was embarked on sometime in 2008 or 2009 and was completed with new features added. 
David Holder, who is now the chairman of Ladurée, ensures the success of this iconic place by "adhering to traditional values and practices."
A section dedicated to the Ladurée specialties, like...
...their famous French macarons
...the Ladurée chocolate collection...
...the wine collection, including the Billecart-Salmon Champagne selected by Ladurée and gift-boxed goodies, like Orangettes (chocolates), Mendiants (chocolates), Tuiles (biscuits).
After the renovation, le bar was opened to the public.
The charm of the old world elegance was kept.
From being a patisserie that introduced the French macaron to the world to a Salon de Thé, to now in my list of must-go-to-places for family and friends who come to visit Paris, Ladurée is one of my most recommended places, not just for macaron but for good food and ambiance, as well. All under one roof you can choose to have tea, a serving of something sweet, a drink in the bar, or lunch or dinner.

After walking around the avenue Champs des Elysees - perhaps, even after climbing the Arc de Triomphe or coming all the way from Place de la Concorde, take a break and sample a...
Ladurée Salad 
with Arugula, asparagus, grilled peppers and artichokes, and chips in citrus vinaigrette
with summer truffles
Two big framboise (raspbery) flavored macaron cookies filled with cream and fresh raspberries, topped with an edible rose petal
In summer weather, you may prefer to sit in the outdoor café, a perfect place for the smokers.

And perhaps you want to bring home something Frenchy to your love ones, like a box of macarons! Made daily, these macarons now come in a variety of flavors. Almond powder, egg whites, and sugar are the basic ingredients of the cookies. Then, two pieces are used to sandwich a flavored filling. With each new season, a new flavor is created.  
There is a rainbow of colorful flavors to choose from when you are ready to indulge in something that is delicately delightful, in fruity and floral flavors. Don't forget to also pick the flavor chosen to welcome summer - strawberry!

Just in case you are dying to have some macarons but never make it to Ladurée on Rue Royale or the Avenue Champs des Elysees, you can still find a Ladurée shop in different parts of Paris, and in shop-stands in some department stores and in the airport. And when you are traveling, there is one in Istanbul and one in Luxembourg. 

Allow the memorable taste of the macaron to linger in your palate and invite you back to Paris for more!

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